Rising calls for China to get tough on Canada, as Ottawa escalates diplomatic spat

By Wang Cong Source:Global Times Published: 2019/4/30 19:35:23

There are growing calls in China for the government to take tough measures against Canada, as several senior Canadian officials said Ottawa might further escalate diplomatic tensions between the two countries over the case involving a Huawei executive.

Expressing anger toward Canadian officials in their handling of the case of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, many took to social media platform Weibo to urge the Chinese government to take firm action that should inflict pain on the Canadian economy, including restricting imports of Canadian agricultural goods, pork, seafood and beyond.

"We have to step up the intensity,” one Weibo user wrote on Monday, in response to reports of issues with Canadian soybeans imports. “If we hit them, we need to inflict maximum pain (on them),” another wrote.

Reuters reported on Monday that traders have faced obstacles in exporting Canadian soybeans and peas to the Chinese market and Chinese customs inspectors found ants in some Canadian soybeans. Canadian pork shipments have also been held up over paperwork issues, Reuters reported.

As bilateral relations between Beijing and Ottawa deteriorated badly over Meng, who remains under house arrest and faces extradition proceedings to the US, trade ties have taken a beating.

Chinese authorities have suspended the licenses of three major Canadian canola seed exporters, citing non-compliance with China’s health requirements.

Canadian officials have described the actions as Beijing retaliating Canada for the arrest of Meng, while Chinese officials stressed that the cases were based on Chinese laws and regulations.

But agricultural insiders told the Global Times that it is very normal that Chinese importers tried to stop ordering goods from Canada because of the rising risk of getting tangled in the diplomatic tussle.

“I think Canadians have only themselves to blame,” Mei Xinyu, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation said. “China wants to resolve disputes without causing any turbulence. But if forced, China will take action.”

Further escalation

And it appears Canadian officials are trying to coerce Beijing, as they suggest that Canada might take measures to counter China. Andrew Scheer, leader of the Canadian Conservative Party, has demanded that the Canadian government take robust action, the Toronto Sun newspaper reported on Monday.

Scheer suggested that Canada file complaints before the WTO and withdraw from the China-initiated multilateral bank, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the report said. 

Former Canadian ambassador to China Guy Saint-Jacques also suggested that Canada take action, such as stopping negotiations for a bilateral trade agreement with China, and expelling Chinese athletes training in Canada for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, Canada’s CBC reported Monday.

“I think that will only further escalate the tensions,” Wang Jun, deputy director of the Department of Information at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges. “If we start imposing sanctions on each other, I think it will hurt Canada more than it will China.”

If China restricts the entry of Canadian agricultural products, it would pose serious trouble for Canadian farmers because of their reliance on the Chinese market.

In 2018, China purchased about $2.7 billion worth of Canadian canola and $514 million worth of pork, according to the Reuters report. Canadian soybean exports to China also saw a sharp increase last year to $1.7 billion, as Chinese firms stopped buying soybeans from the US due to their tariffs war.

Analysts said that as China and the US appear to be making final efforts to reach an agreement that might include increasing China’s purchases of US agricultural goods such as soybeans and pork. Canadian agricultural goods would take a blow, they said.

“I think Canadians have misjudged the whole thing. They thought they would do the US a favor by arresting Meng. But they have found themselves increasingly forced to the wall because China and the US are now resolving their disputes,” Mei said. “And further escalation would not be in Canada’s interest because China is capable of taking more action, especially after we resolve the trade tensions with the US.”

Aside from restricting imports of Canadian agricultural goods, there’s a rising call online for Beijing to be harsher in approving students flying to Canadian schools, which have increasingly relied on Chinese students for revenue.

Posted in: DIPLOMACY

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